Very recently, my dad passed away. His admission into a local hospital didn’t leave much room for a positive prognosis.
Leah and I drove back to my hometown the same day. Fear of his passing loomed over me the entire 8-hour drive. I had to be strong. It was my duty to get us there safe.
Over the next days, my siblings gathered at his bedside. We laughed, cried, and tried out-doing each other over family stories where our dad was usually the hero.
My wife barely said a word. She also never left my side. When I lost, she lost.
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. ~
Ephesians 4: 2-3
I took every opportunity to pray over my dad. One afternoon, tears flooded my face as the Holy Spirit came over us. I felt Leah’s hand upon my shoulder. She’d left the others at lunch to return for me. Silently, she stood there as I prayed over my dad.
I understood then that it wasn’t about me. I felt Leah’s sorrow. Although she’d lost her dad a few years earlier, it wasn’t the memory of his death that burdened her. She grieved for the impending death of my dad, her father-in-law.
It’s easy to become proprietary or even territorial over a parent during the death process. We must always remember the emotional attachments our spouses have developed with their in-laws. Even when tenuous at best, their relationships still reflect upon the person they love and married.
The loss of a parent is difficult. But, you must also remain sensitive to your spouse’s emotional grief during the same time. I’ve listed 5 ways to assure your spouse that you empathize with their feelings of loss.
- Include them in the family circle
- Comfort them as you wish to be comforted
- Do not alienate them with “possessive / exclusive” speech.
- Acknowledge the depth of their emotional connection to your parent
- Encourage them to grieve in their unique way
Leah and I have prayed together leading up to and since my dad’s passing. We both take comfort in this verse:
So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
2 Corinthians 5:6-8
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